Pennsylvania Legislation on the Horizon for 2023 – 2024

Pennsylvania Family Medical Leave Act

PA Senators Christine M. Tartaglione, John I. Kane, and Camera Bartolotto plan to soon re-introduce legislation that would extend FMLA rights for caregivers. Currently, FMLA only permits leave to care for an employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition. This legislation would allow up to six weeks of protected, unpaid leave to employees caring for a sibling, grandparent, or grandchild with a certified terminal illness if there is no other family member (defined as a living spouse, child over 17 years of age, or parent under 65 years of age) who can provide care.

In 2022, this passed the Senate overwhelmingly but received no further legislative action in the House of Representatives.

Pennsylvania Paid Family Leave Act

The US is the only industrialized country that does not provide national paid family leave for its employees. Representative Elizabeth Fiedler plans to introduce legislation to provide parents with up to 36 weeks of paid family leave, which will be counted against the federal FMLA leave allowance.

The Family Care Act

Representative Kathleen C. Tomlinson plans to reintroduce legislation to establish “The Family Care Act,” a statewide Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. This will provide employees the ability to take small deductions from their earnings and invest them into a fund administered by the Department of Labor and Industry. Workers will be able to take time off to care for themselves in the event of a serious illness, for a close family member with a serious health condition, for an aging parent or a new child, or for a member of the military in qualifying exigent circumstances and remain financially stable. While FMLA guarantees job-protected unpaid time off in these circumstances, many Americans cannot afford to be without a paycheck for more than two weeks.

Benefits will be calculated on a graduated scale (using a percentage of the statewide average weekly wage) to ensure the program is accessible to low-wage workers. Employees can then utilize the fund when they need it, retain their jobs, and return to work. These funds will help small businesses compete with large companies to recruit and retain top-tier talent in a tight labor market. State taxpayers will benefit in the long term from this program as well, as data shows that individuals who take paid leave are 39% less likely to report using public assistance in the year following a child’s birth.

Healthy Workplace

Workplace bullying is prevalent and can include physical and verbal abuse, deliberate interference with an employee’s job performance, and other behaviors intended to humiliate, intimidate, or threaten. Bullying is disruptive, can ruin careers, and contributes to an unhealthy and unsafe environment. Representative Patrick J. Harkins plans to introduce legislation that will extend court-ordered relief for victims of workplace bullying who do not currently fit in a protected class under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.  The relief measures will include job reinstatement, reimbursement for lost wages and medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.